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Insurance Sales Jobs Cons And Pros

Pros & Cons of Selling Life Insurance

If you like interacting with people and selling a product that is beneficial to everyone, a career as a life insurance sales professional may be for you. Since becoming a life insurance sales professional requires you to go through training and get legally certified–which costs time and money–it is good to know the advantages and disadvantages of such a career before you commit yourself to it.

For most life insurance sales professionals, the daily work schedule is not fixed. As a sales professional, if you decide to take a day or a few hours off, this is usually your decision: you do not have to clear it with a superior. A disadvantage of the sales schedule for someone selling life insurance is the fact that most of your prospective clients only have time to meet with you in the evening or over the weekend, which means that you must work at times when most other people are off.

Income Potential

Life insurance sales professionals typically earn all or most of their income through commission, which means that they get a certain percentage of every sale they make as well as residual income when clients continue to make payments. For this reason, if you sell life insurance, you have the potential to earn much more than you would at an average hourly job. As with any other commission-based job, though, if you fail to perform, you will not be able to earn anything. Even if you do sell a substantial amount of insurance one month, you may not be able to sustain these sales numbers from month to month, and this may result in an unstable level of income.

Helping People

The purpose of life insurance is to offset the economic loss associated with the death of a contributing family member or loved one. For this reason, life insurance sales professionals pride themselves on being providers of important protection. Since anyone can die at any time, the value of this protection is real for all prospective clients. Unfortunately though, insurance companies do not simply enroll anyone who wants life insurance. They investigate the health and lifestyle of each applicant. Those who have diseases or lifestyles that mean a higher risk of death may have to pay substantially higher premiums or may not be able to get insurance at all.

The most difficult part about selling life insurance is finding people who are interested in purchasing a policy. To help with this, companies often provide insurance sales forces with leads or with marketing systems that help to generate leads such as sweepstakes, free financial product offers and detailed marketing plans. When such resources come from the insurance company itself, they might not be very high quality. When the marketing plans come from a third party company, sales professionals usually have to pay for them. Additionally, insurance companies often encourage their sales professionals to sell to friends and family, but many prospective sales professionals prefer not to do this because of the social strains that it could cause.

Becoming an Insurance Sales Agent: Salary Info & Job Description

Pros and Cons of an Insurance Sales Career

Insurance sales agents work with a variety of people by helping to ensure that their clients have appropriate insurance policies for medical situations and other emergencies. Consider the negative and positive aspects of this career before making your own career decision.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Insurance sales agents are usually independent agents who work for insurance brokerage firms and sell the policies of several different carriers. Alternatively, some are captive agents who work for single insurance companies. In both cases, agents must develop and maintain their client bases by reaching out to potential clients, often in the form of ‘cold’ calls. In this career, you might interview clients to determine what kind of coverage they need and what their budgetary constraints are. You’ll then match clients with the policies that best suit their needs. You may also suggest modifications to policies and help clients settle claims when necessary.

Many agents sell multiple types of insurance, but some specialize in property, casualty, life, health, long-term care or auto insurance. It’s also becoming more common for insurance sales agents, particularly those who specialize in life insurance, to offer financial planning services. For example, you might help a client who is purchasing life insurance plan for retirement or plan an estate. Insurance agents usually set their own work schedules; however, many must work weekends and evenings to meet the schedules of their clients.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 375,000 insurance sales agents working in the United States as of May 2014. These agents reported earning a mean salary of nearly $64,000. Most agents, particularly those who work independently, are paid by commission. Those who work for agencies or insurance companies can be paid flat salaries with additional commission or flat salaries with bonuses. The majority of insurance sales agents work at insurance agencies and brokerage firms; however, the highest-paying insurance sales agents tend to work in securities and brokerage firms. They earned a mean salary of about $120,000 in 2014.

The BLS also reports that this profession was projected to see average job growth at a rate of 10% from 2012-2022. This increase will be due in part to economic growth. Multilingual sales agents as well as agents who have a strong understanding of technical and legal terminology should experience the strongest job prospects.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Licensure

A high school diploma is the minimum education requirement for entering a career in insurance sales. You’ll generally gain the training you need on the job by shadowing a more experienced sales agent to learn the company procedures and sales tactics.

While the education requirements are minimal, an insurance agent must have a license in order to sell insurance. In fact, those who sell life and health or property and casualty insurance must hold separate licenses. Each state regulates the licensure process and requirements. In Oregon, for example, a property and casualty agent must complete a minimum of 20 hours of training in both property and casualty insurance, while in New York, the same type of agent must complete a minimum of 90 hours of training prior to licensure. Agents typically must renew licensure by earning a state-mandated number of continuing education credits every two years.

Essential Skills for Insurance Sales Agents

As an insurance sales agent, you’ll need to have strong customer service skills because you’ll work closely with clients on a daily basis. You’ll also need to be a good interviewer and listener in order to collect the necessary information from clients. Initiative is another important qualification, since you’ll often work on your own schedule.

What Do Employers Look For?

Employers often seek insurance sales agents who have backgrounds in sales and are self-motivated. Some agencies will train insurance sales agents and assist them with the licensing process. Here are examples of job postings available in April 2012 to help you discover what employers might want from you:

  • An insurance agency in Ohio sought a licensed insurance agent with organizational skills, a proactive attitude and an outgoing personality to sell life and casualty insurance.
  • A nationally-known company in California sought an insurance sales agent to work with clients to identify appropriate product lines and policies. This person must have had a diploma, although a bachelor’s degree was preferred.
  • A Utah-based insurance company sought an individual with financial stability, good credit and driving records and previous sales or management experience to sell policies to customers. The ideal candidate would have a bachelor’s degree.
  • An Ohio-based branch of a nationally-known insurance company sought a candidate for sales associate training with the ability to gain licensure to sell property and casualty insurance. This person must have had the energy and ability to work individually with existing clients to ensure that their insurance met their needs.

Standing Out From the Crowd

Get a Degree

While there are no strict formal education requirements, you may consider earning a college degree to get ahead in the field. In fact, the BLS reports that more than 33% of insurance sales agents hold bachelor’s degrees. You could, for example, earn a 4-year degree in marketing, sales or another applicable field. Some schools also offer bachelor’s degrees in insurance and risk management, although it is more common to find undergraduate certificates in these topics. You may benefit from taking courses in public speaking, finance and economics. The BLS reports that instruction in business, in particular, can help sales agents advance to management positions.

Pursue Professional Certification

Another way to stand out in the field is to obtain professional certifications. The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (AICPCU), for example, offers certification programs that lead to the Associate in General Insurance (AINS), Associate in Claims (AIC) and Accredited Adviser in Insurance (AAI) designations. Requirements may vary for each certification, but candidates generally must pass a series of courses and exams.

Alternative Career Paths

Insurance Underwriter

If you’re sure that insurance is the field for you but don’t want to work in sales, consider a career as an insurance underwriter. This is the individual who looks at a specific claim and decides if it’s covered under a patient’s insurance. You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter this career, and employers may require that you earn certification in insurance underwriting. According to the BLS, about 93,000 underwriters were employed in the U.S. as of May 2011, and they earned a mean salary of about $68,000.

Real Estate Sales Agent

If you’re looking for a career in sales not related to insurance, consider a career as a real estate sales agent. According to the BLS, state regulations may vary, but a real estate agent in any state must have a high school diploma and must pass an exam to gain professional licensure. The licensure process also involves completion of a handful of classes related to real estate sales. As of May 2011, there were about 158,000 real estate sales agents working in the nation, and they earned a mean salary of more than $51,000.

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Why a Career in Sales: Pros and Cons

Considering a career in sales and wondering what the pros and cons are? I personally have been in outside sales for over 18 years as of 2011 and I have loved every year of it. Many people have came and went in this fast paced and rewarding career, but it is not for everyone. This article will provide some key pros and cons of a career in sales to help you get a better understanding based on my personal experiences and research I have done.

Each sales career experience is uniquely different based upon the company you choose to work for, the products you sell and your personal sales skills. This is an important factor to think about when deciding on a career in sales and to be aware of what you are looking for and what to expect. The best way is to do research on your own to find out as much as possible before committing yourself to a job. I have seen some people blindly accepting a sales job, and later realizing that it wasn’t for them. Sometimes it is the experience you might get from working with a company that might give you the wrong impression of the entire industry. Do yourself a favor and do your homework, and the first step is to find out what you want, learn about the industry, the products, the people, culture with a goal of learning the good, the bad and ugly of the career opportunity. This article will help you understand some of the general pros and cons of a career in sales.

PROS:

One of the most attractive reasons as to why many professionals choose a career in sales is due to the potential of earning a lot of money in comparison to many other career choices. Out of college, my first sales offer started at $50,000.00 base with a full benefits package, car allowance, commission and various perks such as bonuses and exotic trips. After my 5th year in sales, I have consistently made over six figures and with the experience and contacts I have under my belt, I could command this income with each job I pursue.

According to simplyhired.com, the average sales salary came in at $59,000.00 per year with a high of $160,000.00/year. This of course depends on your years of experience, industry and job title. I have worked with sales professionals that have shown me a commission check for over $55,000.00 in one quarter and taking home a total of half a million dollars in a single year.

One of the best things that many sales professionals like about a career in sales is that they have a direct impact on the amount of money they could earn. On top of a great salary, you might have the potential to earn top dollars with additional commissions. The high earners in sales are the ones that work hard, work smart, continually hone their sales skills, build lasting relationships and gain valuable experience that can be used to command a high paying salary.

Start-up companies looking to enter the market attract many sales professionals by offering higher than average salaries and also add on stock options as well to share the success of the business. While large established companies provide better job security and great benefits with proven products and support.

Some of the other monetary benefits include a car allowance, gas cards/reimbursements, cell phone, laptop, sales contests, expense accounts, tuition reimbursement and the list goes on. Companies pay their sales team well because, this is the team that generates revenue for the company and as the saying goes, nothing happens until something gets sold and without revenue, a business will be out of business.

CONS:

With a high income, comes high accountability and responsibility to deliver on your numbers and goals. This does add to pressure and stress if your performance is less than on goal. Some people cannot handle this kind of stress and the pressure to perform. A high income is also not a guarantee as part of the pay is directly influence by your commission check. It is important to understand the salary/commission percentage to calculate and plan your earnings and finance. For example, some sales jobs pay out at a 70/30 mix where 70% is base and 30% is commission. Some jobs pay out 100% commission and if you don’t sell, you don’t earn. The competition for a lucrative salary is fierce and the selling environment is very challenging. If you have the talent and mindset to see yourself through the stress, you can build a successful career.

FREEDOM/FLEXIBILITY

PROS:

I personally don’t understand how anyone can be stuck in a cubicle all day or report into an office all the time. When corporate employees vie for the corner office with a view, a sales professional has an ever changing view of the outside world as they travel from customer to customer. I always tell people, that my car’s windshield is my office view, and it is never boring. Being in outside sales, you also don’t have a boss or groups of the management team looking over your shoulder all day, this usually done virtually and managers occasionally work with you in the field, but this is a lot less than the daily exposure you have working in the office.

If you are a trustworthy professional that doesn’t abuse the freedom, you can schedule your workday to take care of errands and have the flexibility to dictate how you run your business. I have built a self sustaining business where I did a lot of work on the front end and as I established my business, I was able to take it easy on some Fridays or head out to the mountain to snowboard during the weekday. If my business was not successful, I did not have this freedom as I strive to deliver on my accountability’s and deliver results.

CONS:

Believe it or not, an outside sales career can be a lonely job. With freedom and flexibility from being away from the office, you are out there on your own. Many people cannot grasp this since you are out and about meeting clients all day, but you do not have the same camaraderie and daily interactions with colleagues as you would being in an office.

Your exposure to management is also limited, so career advancement is also a challenge since there are only a few upward career advancement opportunities for field sales people. For example, if you work in an office setting, there are many different paths you can take your career. With field sales, you will most likely work remote and your home office could be in another state and moving up could possibly mean moving away from your home state.

You also need a strong sense of accountability and self motivation to set your own work schedule, since nobody is there looking over your shoulders, you are basically managing yourself. For some, this could be hard and immediate answers are not readily available as it would be if you worked in an office housing many different

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

PROS:

Being in sales and managing your territory is like running your own small business while having the support and financial backing from an organization. A sales career can provide you with the entrepreneurship and creativity of running your territory as a business where you are the CEO, marketing, sales and operations person. The way I look at it, it is comparable to being a franchise owner where my business is supported by a national brand with established products and marketing and I am selling the products that I do not have to create or develop as my main focus is on gaining business and sales.

CONS:

As with running your own business, it is up to you to generate revenue, develop relationships and drive a profitable business. You are responsible and held accountable for the performance of your business as it directly relates to your efforts. The level of stress could be tough for those who prefer a more structured type of working environment and running your own business or sales territory is not a 9 to 5 job. My significant other is a nurse and didn’t understand that once I was done with work, I also had administrative items I needed to do, paperwork, planning and activities to maintain my business. When she was done with work, she was done until the next work day, where being in sales, you have a lot of administrative work and after hours work that you continually do at home.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

PROS:

With a sales career, you have a high level of accomplishment as you are directly the person responsible for making things happen. It is quite an adrenalin rush when you close a sale. You also get the satisfying feeling of providing your customers with products that they truly want and need and you had a large part in facilitating and meeting their needs. Some jobs can be really redundant and you might feel that you have not accomplished anything, but with a sales career, every sale is a direct result of your efforts. Along with sales awards and rewards, your hard work is rewarded handsomely with commissions, reward trips, sales contests and recognition. You have a much higher level of control of your career when compared to many other career choices.

CONS:

Nothing is perfect in life and a sales career that is being built or competition is tough, you might not be meeting your goals and the pressure and job satisfaction could be really tough when you are being asked as to why your business is not producing. People have always asked me how I could work in an environment where the axe is always hanging over my head. My response to this is that at least I have better control of the axe, which hangs over everyone’s head no matter what job or career they are in. The negative side of doing well is poor performance, which leads to pressure, stress, depression and job dissatisfaction.

CHALLENGING

PROS:

If you are like me and love a good challenge, then a sales career might just be for you. I love the thrill that sales provides me and getting people to buy from me versus my competition. A sales career will really challenge you to get your life in order and develop great time management skills, people skills, communication skills, productivity and business savviness. With the challenges that comes with a career in sales, I am seldom bored or feel that my job is stale as I am always challenged do gain more business, beat my competitors, build stronger business relationships and win year over year with consistency. Sales is a profession that could truly give you the passion to jump out of bed every morning with the efforts you do resulting in measurable outcomes. Most sales professionals love the challenge that sales brings.

CONS:

A challenging work environment could mean stress and pressure for some people. Some people who cannot handle the challenging and demanding work of running a sales territory can also become depressed when not accomplishing goals and the pressure could be significant. Some people might want the structured working environment where if you do activity A it results in B, where in sales the results can have many different outcomes such as a customer not buying, the competitor is outselling you, and the list goes on. The challenging work environment brings many positives but also brings with it the immense pressure of meeting and exceeding expectations.

CONCLUSION

These are only a few key pros and cons of a sales career and I recommend you continue your research by asking others in the industry and learn as much as you can about the company, the culture, the people, and the expectations before committing yourself to a sales career. The more informed you are, the less surprises will come your way and you will be better prepared to do well. I personally love the sales career and would not want to do anything else, but for some it would be a tough career choice. For example, I could never be a doctor. I could go to school and learn the trade, but the work wouldn’t excite me and dealing with the cons of the job does not outweigh the pros. Make sure you are a good fit for the career you are pursuing, because it could mean having a successful career or one that will create more problems for you.

Also, realistically look at the career and don’t chase the money alone. Look within yourself and ask the tough questions to see what your strengths are and where you could truly excel. As with any career, there are superstars and ones that consistently perform poorly. By finding your match for a career, you could gain career satisfaction and all the pros that comes with it. Good luck!

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